Family Medicine Clinic Adopts a Program for the Books

This article originally appeared in the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants’ April 2019 newsletter and is reprinted with permission from the organization.

Clinically-practicing certified physician assistant Joanna Hebgen is doing her part to change the lives of children through a simple-yet-effective method: books. 

At the SSM Health Family Medicine Clinic in Oregon, Wisconsin, Hebgen implemented the Reach Out and Read program, which strives to incorporate books into the daily lives of children and encourages families to read aloud together. 

Staff members including Physician Assistant of SSM Health Oregon clinic at Wellness Expo showcasing their Reach Out and Read program
SSM Health Dean Medical Group Oregon staff at the Oregon Wellness Expo

The clinic has distributed more than 450 children’s books and created a literacy-friendly waiting area and exam rooms. By adding books and comfy, child-size chairs, children can relax and read before their appointments. 

During wellness visits, providers give each child a book they can take home. Upon presenting the book, providers can observe the child’s and parent’s reactions, which offers insight about the child’s development and the parent’s comfort with reading to the child.  It also paves the way for discussion about the importance of daily reading. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), benefits from reading can begin as early as infancy. Kids who are read to regularly have a stronger bond with their parents and learn valuable language and literacy skills. Reading also improves their social, vocabulary, and writing skills, and it can make kids kinder and more empathetic individuals as they grow.

“I love giving out books that I read as a child and also read to my children,” said Joanna Bisgrove, MD. “Parents and kids love the books. I find that the book is a good way to calm a child during an appointment and build rapport with both the children and parents.”

The clinic’s interprofessional staff all contributed to the program’s success, dedicating an estimated 40 hours to the project last year. Three staff members attended the annual Reach Out and Read conference to share experiences with others implementing the program. 

Additionally, the clinic participated in the Oregon Wellness Expo, a free event for families to visit local wellness vendors. Clinic volunteers distributed free books to kids and network within their community.

Due to the program’s overwhelming success, SSM Health plans to make the Reach Out and Read program available at their 25 family medicine and pediatrics clinics in Wisconsin; and funding for the books will be included in the annual budget.

“’Reach Out and Read makes appointments fun.” said Bisgrove.

This project was funded in-part by the NCCPA Health Foundation’s Be the CHANGE grant. Learn more about the Foundation’s grant programs here.

young boys read books aloud together

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin’s first legislative visit of 2019

On April 22, the ThedaCare Physicians Pediatrics Neenah clinic hosted a legislative visit with State Representative Mike Rohrkaste. During the visit, Rep. Rohrkaste learned about Reach Out and Read Wisconsin and read aloud to a group of children from the Neenah and Menasha communities. The children’s excitement was evident as the representative read From Head to Toe while they acted out the actions described on each page. 

Wisconsin state representative Rohrkaste reads aloud at medical clinic
Rep. Rohrkaste reading aloud from Dog Breath: The Horrible Trouble with Hally Tosis.
Wisconsin state representative Rohrkaste with children and families at ThedaCare clinic
Rep. Rohrkaste with children and parents after the reading
Rep Rohrkaste and Reach Out and Read Wisconsin staff and partners including Appleton Public Library
Reach Out and Read Wisconsin community partners, including United Way Fox Cities and Appleton Public Library, were also in attendance

Following the reading, Dr. Eileen Jekot, the clinic’s Reach Out and Read medical champion, led Rep. Rohrkaste on a tour of the clinic. Dr. Jekot talked about the program’s positive impact on her patients and their families, and how it has changed the way she practices medicine for the better. Since 2016, the ThedaCare Physicians Pediatrics Neenah clinic has given more than 7,300 books to children ages 6 months through 5 years.

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin is grateful for the opportunity to bring together legislators, the medical community and community organizations to promote, educate and engage around early literacy and children’s health.

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin welcomes national medical director Perri Klass, MD

Reach Out and Read national medical director Perri Klass, MD, recently visited Madison, Wisconsin to give a presentation to Reach Out and Read Wisconsin supporters and stakeholders. During this talk at the Madison Central Library, Dr. Klass emphasized the importance of using books to promote healthy brain development in young children. One of the ways reading aloud supports brain development is through the parent-child relationship. “If we want to promote healthy child development in the early years, then we have to promote that parent-child relationship,” said Dr. Klass.

Books aid in the development of the parent-child relationship because they spark back-and-forth conversations. These conversational turns are what form connections in babies’ brains. Even young babies who are not themselves talking yet, show signs of engagement when these back-and-forth interactions are happening. Examples of this include, smiling at a book or the parent, looking at the pictures, reaching out to grab the book, trying to turn pages, cooing or babbling along with the story, or even trying to put the book in their mouth.

When parents read aloud they are not only helping foster brain development but development in all kinds of areas, like math, language, vocabulary, socio-emotional, school readiness and attachment.

Dr. Perri Klass presents at Madison Public Library about the importance of books and reading aloud for healthy child development
Dr. Perri Klass shares the importance of books and reading aloud to an audience of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin supporters and stakeholders.

Screen time

Dr. Klass also shared her thoughts about screen time and e-readers. She recommended physical books for newborns and children younger than age 2. Physical books allow babies to touch, feel, learn how to turn pages and put books in their mouths – all of which are appropriate developmental milestones for young children. Screens and enhanced e-books (stories that make sounds when tapped or have animations) can be distracting for young babies. New research shows that when e-readers are used, the number of conversational turns and back-and-forth interactions between parents and children decrease. Dr. Klass recently wrote about this new research in her weekly New York Times column.

When kids are older, using electronic reading devices can help them gain access to a wide range of information. However, it is still important for parents to provide supervision and make time for reading physical books aloud together.  

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin would like to thank Dr. Perri Klass for sharing her time and expertise. Also, thank you to the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters and the Madison Public Library for co-presenting this event. To learn more about Reach Out and Read Wisconsin and how to support us our work, please visit our website.

Appleton Ready to Read: Outreach program brings early literacy to Hmong and Hispanic families

Appleton Ready to Read banner

Appleton Ready to Read (ARTR) is an outreach program for Hmong and Hispanic families with children ages birth to five. The program is based on the American Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read initiative, which provides strategies that caregivers can use to develop children’s early literacy skills.

ARTR was created as a result of the Leading Indicator for Excellence (LIFE) study conducted by  United Way of Fox Cities. In 2011, the LIFE study found that third grade reading scores had declined every year since 2006. Among those with declining reading scores, 36% were Asian (predominately Hmong) and 38% were English language learners (ELL) who were predominately Hispanic. Since library staff and community leaders knew literacy skills develop earlier than third grade, they decided to target Hmong and Hispanic families with children age birth to 5.  

A Hmong family outreach specialist, Pa Ja Yang, and a Hispanic family outreach specialist, Norma Oliveras, were hired to work closely with local families. Their positions were originally funded through a grant from United Way of Fox Cities but they are now funded through the City of Appleton. Pa Ja and Norma educate families on the importance of building early literacy skills through five practices: reading, writing, singing, talking, and playing. ARTR’s goal is to better prepare Hmong and Hispanic children for kindergarten and school success. There are three components to the program

1. Home Visit:

Specialists meet with families in their homes to provide free books and educational information on reading, writing, and children’s brain development.

2. Library Visit:

Specialists meet with families at the library to discuss library services, programs, and resources. Families receive a tour of the children’s section, music CDs and information on the benefits of singing and talking with their children.

3. Participation in Play & Learn:

Families attend a children’s program called Play & Learn. Specialists incorporate early literacy skills and the five practices to discuss the importance of dramatic and imaginary play, as well as narrative skills.  

Pa Ja Yang, Hmong Family Outreach Specialist
Pa Ja Yang, Hmong Family Outreach Specialist

Norma Oliveras, Hispanic Outreach Specialist
Norma Oliveras, Hispanic Outreach Specialist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The success of ARTR would not be possible without community partnerships, in-kind contributions from local businesses and continuous support from the city. Community partnerships include the Appleton Area School District, Outagamie Birth to Five Intervention, UW-Oshkosh Head Start, Fox Valley Literacy Council and a variety of other organizations. Contributions from Bouwer Family Foundation and Bob’s Discount Furniture have provided new literature, music CDs and coloring books for families. Since 2014, Pa Ja and Norma have served more than 230 Hmong and Hispanic families.

Play & Learn: Hispanic Edition is offered on Sundays from 1-2 p.m. at the Appleton Public Library and Play & Learn: Hmong Edition from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Visit the Appleton Public Library’s classes and events calendar for upcoming classes and updated information.

Looking for Hmong family resources near you? Check out some of these other websites:

Madison: http://hmongmadison.com/

La Crosse: www.ciasiabinc.org  

Milwaukee: http://www.hawamke.org/

Hmong National Development, Inc.: www.hndinc.org

Appleton public library ready to readAppleton Ready to Read programAppleton Public library ready to read program Appleton Ready to read

To our clinics, providers and families affected by last month’s storms, Reach Out and Read Wisconsin is thinking of you

Dear Reach Out and Read Wisconsin family,
 
On behalf of the Reach Out and Read Wisconsin team, I am sending thoughts to everyone in the state dealing with the aftermath of the unprecedented storms in August and September.
 
We have been thinking of you and your communities throughout the last month as we heard of torrential rains, floods, road washouts, mudslides, evacuations, sheer winds and tornadoes in multiple areas of the state. We know that several of our participating clinics were flooded, along with their entire towns. Superficial cleanup has been astounding, but real recovery will take time.
 
Perhaps, now, you have a few extra moments to let us know your situation and needs:

  • Were your clinics damaged?
  • Did you lose book inventory?
  • Do you have many families who lost homes, including all the books in their homes?
  • Will your usual book funding sources be diverted to emergency relief efforts?
  • How are the children in your community faring?
    • We know of at least one school system that delayed the start of school – acknowledging that the children were too traumatized by loss of homes and sense of normalcy to focus on academics.

Please remind your families that books not only build better brains, they build better bonds. Sharing stories, even without a book in hand, develops and reinforces strong, comforting, nurturing parent-child relationships. These relationships act as protective shields for children living through natural disaster.
 
Reach Out and Read Wisconsin functions on an extremely tight budget. However, what we lack in a financial cushion, we make up for in the strength of our collaborative network, interest in sharing your stories and unstoppable, creative, problem-solving energies.
 
Please tell us of your needs and/or send pictures if possible. We may be able to offer some assistance.
 
Here’s wishing for a month of clearer skies.
 
Karin Mahony and the Reach Out and Read Wisconsin team

graphic of books

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin Learning and Fundraising event

event invite for Reach Out and Read Wisconsin learning and fundraising event

Come learn about how early literacy builds a baby’s brain infrastructure, as well as economic implications for the well-being of our families, communities, and state.

On Sunday, Oct. 14, Reach Out and Read Wisconsin (ROR) advisory council members are hosting a friendraising and fundraising event. We want to increase awareness about how crucial early language exposure is to a child’s development and the link between high-quality, early intervention and future community economic health.

Join us and bring a friend or neighbor.

Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD founding ROR medical director and Dennis Winters, MS, chief economist for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development will give a short presentation and a Q&A session.

The event space is generously being donated by Mary Morgan at 702 Writer Incubator.

Please RSVP to Michele Erikson by Oct. 12.

Can’t make it to the event but want to learn more about our work and impact? Please contact Alex Rogers. To donate to ROR Wisconsin, please click here.

Celebrate National Child Health Day!

Join Reach Out and Read Wisconsin on Monday, Oct. 1

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin staff with message bubble signs

In 1928, Congress created Child Health Day, a national observance bringing attention to the “fundamental necessity” of children’s health programs.

In the spirit of the first National Child Health Day, Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin is hosting a social media campaign to raise awareness for children’s health. You can show your support for kids by taking a photo and posting on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ForKidsHealth. The individual or organization with the most creative photo will win a $25 gift card! See contest rules at www.chawisconsin.org.

To receive a free #ForKidsHealth message bubble sign, please complete the online request form by Sept. 14. If you would like additional signs for your clinic or partners, please contact ljensen@chw.org.

Thank you for your support and partnership as we work to improve children’s health and literacy in Wisconsin. Please follow Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin on Facebook and Twitter.

We look forward to seeing your photos on Oct. 1!

For Kids Health message bubble

August and September Literacy events

Continue the summer fun and get the kids ready for back to school with these literacy events taking place across Wisconsin. If you don’t see an event in your area, be sure to check out your local library’s website or other local community resources.

August 2018

Date County Name Location Time More information
Aug 1 Fond du Lac Toddler story times Fond du Lac Public Library 32 Sheboygan St. 9:30 a.m. bit.ly/2uRx6Zl
Aug 2 Milwaukee Preschool story time Milwaukee Public Library 814 W Wisconsin St. Milwaukee, WI 10:00 a.m. bit.ly/2uTzT4f
Aug 7 Green Bay Children’s story time at Green Bay Botanical Garden Botanical Garden 2600 Larsen Rd Green Bay, WI 10:00 am bit.ly/2LFwwra This is an ongoing event. Check website for more dates.
Aug 10 Dane Robert Kurson, Rocket Men 702WI 702 E Johnson St. Madison, WI 7:00 pm bit.ly/2LRZdxU
Aug 10 Brown Prevea Read and Play Bay Park Square Mall 303 Bay Sq. Green Bay, WI 9:30 am bit.ly/2sa8dFP
Aug 17 Dane Summer in YOUR City: Kids create at the top of State The Grove, Intersection of W Mifflin and State St. Madison, WI 10:00 am – 1:00 pm bit.ly/2NNw7jJ
Aug 18 Dane Julie Fine, What Should Be Wild 702WI 702 E Johnson St. Madison, WI 11:00 am

 

bit.ly/2mJEzVF

Aug 22 La Crosse Family story time La Crosse Public Library 800 Main St. La Crosse, WI 10:30 am – 11:15 am

bit.ly/2mLWWcE

This is an ongoing event. Check the website for more dates

September 2018

Date County Name Location Time More information
Sept 7 – 8 La Crosse La Crosse Storytelling Festival Myrick Park 2000 La Crosse St. La Crosse, WI 6:30 pm bit.ly/2LVTFma
Sept 8 Everywhere International Literacy Day Worldwide – check the library or Google for local events All day bit.ly/2mMC30U
Sept 14 Brown Prevea Read and Play Bay Park Square Mall 303 Bay Park Sq.Green Bay, WI 9:30 a.m. bit.ly/2sa8dFP
Sept 25 Kenosha Family Literacy Night Kenosha Literacy Council 2419 63rd St Kenosha, WI 5:30 pm – 10 pm bit.ly/2uQT6n0
Sept 28 Dane Read Like Mad (Community reading event) Madison, WI   bit.ly/2uS7nQx

Do you know of an upcoming children’s literacy event in your area? Get it featured on this list by emailing Alex Rogers arogers@chw.org with details!

Outdoor portrait of young girl reading under tree
Get outside this summer and read

An Epic donation

Reach Out and Read (ROR) Wisconsin recently received more than 1,200 books thanks to Epic’s annual book drive in Madison. Our staff will distribute these new and gently-used books across Wisconsin as we travel to clinics for site visits. This is Epic’s fourth annual book drive to benefit ROR Wisconsin.

The new books will be prescribed and given to children by their medical provider at well-child visits from 6 months to 5 years. The gently-used books will help clinics expand their literacy-rich environment as they can be kept in waiting areas or exam rooms for families to enjoy while they are waiting to see the provider. Gently-used books can also be used to supplement the new books and they make great gifts for older siblings who visit the clinic with a ROR-aged brother or sister.

If you are interested in hosting a book drive for a ROR Wisconsin clinic near you, please contact Alex Rogers at arogers@chw.org or (608) 442-4175. Clinics accept books for kids of all ages, but we do ask that you screen donated books before dropping them off at a clinic. Please use our book guidelines when screening and sorting donations.

We would like to thank book drive coordinators Kate Parr and Adrienne Kiser and all the generous Epic employees who donated books. ROR Wisconsin is very grateful for our continued partnership with Epic and we know our clinics and families appreciate these books.

Two Epic employees with their donation of books to Reach Out and Read Wisconsin
Thank you Epic employees for your generous donation to ROR Wisconsin!

June and July literacy events

Summer is here and what better way to start off this season of sun, fun and hopefully some relaxing time spent reading than by attending a literacy event in your area? Check out the information below for local Wisconsin events happening in June and July. If you don’t see an event in your area, be sure to check out your local library’s website as they often have many summer reading programs for both kids and adults.

Please note: use arrows below table to scroll to the right for more information.

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Library summer reading programs for kids:

Fox Valley programs

Madison Public Library

Milwaukee Public Library

Monroe Public Library

Know of an upcoming literacy event in your area that you would like to see included on this list? Email Alex Rogers arogers@chw.org with details!

Outdoor portrait of young girl reading under tree, events